When I began my research into my Wright family history, my grandfather Albert James Wright was as far back as I could go. I also thought he was an only child and did not know if he was born in America or emigrated from Ireland. Everything changed with the United States census of 1900. That census showed that my grandfather had siblings and that his father was born in December, 1839 in Ireland and immigrated here in 1859 (later actually immigration records would show it was 1858). It was this information that opened a whole new world of ancestors for me.
The websites that were key in finding my ancestors were: Ancestry.com, familysearch.org, cotyroneireland.com, proni.gov.uk and rootsireland.ie. The County Tyrone Website (cotyroneireland.com) has great resources and the members and contributors to the mailing list have helped immensely. Boyd Gray’s Family History Workshops on FaceBook gave me the tools I needed to navigate my way through the various data bases of Irish ancestry.
Finally, through Ancestry.com, I connected with two previously unknown relatives who gave me a wealth of family history. Dawn Curley of New Jersey had a wealth of historical documents that opened doors I could not open. Jim Wright of Illinois supplied photos of family members that brought faces to the names I found.
The first Wright’s were Ulster Scots and therefore, were originally from Scotland. Unfortunately, I am unable to trace any Wright back to Scotland. Using the information on my Great Grandfather found in the 1900 US census I found his birth record on Ancestry.com (extremely rare for Ireland in the early 1800’s. Then through many months of researching I found that my 3x Great Grandparents William and Martha Wright lived in Ballynafeagh, County Tyrone, Ireland. William I know little other than his name. Martha was born in 1790 and died 13 Oct. 1884 at the age of 94 in Ballynafeagh. Through further research I have identified two children, a son James Wright (b. apt 1808) and Daughter Margaret Jane Wright (b, apt 1831). I am sure there were other children in this marriage, unfortunately the records of this period or severely incomplete.
The Wright-McConkey Family
James Wright Sr. my 2x Great Grandfather from Ballynafeagh married Elizabeth Ann McConkey of Stuart Hall on 2 Jan 1838. Finding this record was streak of luck since marriage records pre 1845 are rare. PRONI (Public Records of Northern Ireland) conducted a paid search on my behalf and found the recording of this marriage in Cookstown for me. The Family Search website gave me another stroke of luck as it had the birth records of their three sons all christened in Brigh Presbyterian Church County Tyrone: William (b. 13 Aug. 1838 note the original online record showed the month as Oct but the PRONI research showed Aug), James (b. 18 Dec. 1839) and Andrew (b. 21 Feb. 1842). My PRONI search for James Wright Marriage also turned up original recordings of William and James births. Later Research on Rootsireland.org uncovered the birth of a daughter Mary Wright.
The oldest child from the Wright-McConkey family was William Wright a bachelor who lived in the family home in Lisnanane. William passed on 22 Dec 1890 in Gortagowen while living with his sister Mary Wright-Bunting.
James Wright Jr. was the next child in the Wright-McConkey family. James is my great-grandfather who immigrated to American and arrived here on 8 Jul 1858 and took up residence in Brooklyn, NY. James enlisted in the US Army’s 4th Artillery Battery on 25 Mar 1862 using his mother’s maiden name McConkey and fought in the US Civil War. He mustered out 4 Mar 1865 and collected a US Civil War pension. On 13 Sep 1876 James married Bridget Geever (?) in St. Peters Church in Danbury CT. They lived in Brooklyn and had two children William and Hester. Bridget died shortly after Hester was born. James then married Mary Tulley-Parsons in Brooklyn on 18 Mar 1882. The Wright’s then moved to Elizabeth, NJ where James and Mary started their family which turned into my family. (see obituary)
Andrew Wright the third son of James and Elizabeth immigrated to American in 1865 and spent some time in Philadelphia PA before moving to Illinois to work on the farm of a friend from Lisnanane County Tyrone. On 22 Jan 1872 Andrew Married Sarah A. Baxter the sister of his Friend. Andrew was a successful farmer in Cass County, Illinois and raised his family there. (see obituary)
The final member of the Wright-McConkey family is Mary Wright born in about 1848 in Lisnanane. Mary married Holbrook Bunting at Cookstown Presbyterian Church on 10 Dec 1885. Mary and Holbrook had three children Robert, William and Elizabeth. Elizabeth born in Gortagowen County Tyrone on 24 Feb 1889 is the only child in this family to be found after the 1911 census. Elizabeth immigrated to American on 5 Aug 1912 and listed her cousins the MaNeelys as her contact in Bridgeport CT. Elizabeth Bunting Married John Finnegan on 19 Sep 1918 in Manhattan, NY. They raised their family in Manhattan and the Bronx, NY.
The Wright-MaNeely Family
Margaret Jane Wright the daughter of William and Martha Wright, Married William MaNeely in about 1865 and lived with Martha Wright in Ballynafeagh. They had four children together Matilda, Mary Margaret, William James and Esther. Margaret’s son William James MaNeely Married Sarah Jane Bell and had a daughter Esther Rowena Winifred MaNeely. After Sarah passed William married Isabella White and all three immigrated to America. Esther Maneely passed a spinster in Connecticut on 2 Mar 1991 in Stamford CT. Margaret’s daughter, Esther MaNeely, married William Spence in The Sandholes Presbyterian Church on 21 Apr 1904. They had one child named George MaNeely Spence born on 14 Jul 1905. George MaNeely Spence immigrated to Canada and landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia on 17 Nov 1929.
The Wright –Livingston Family
Just recently, I found the Marriage record of Sarah Jane Wright living in Lisnanane, County Tyrone to a Robert McMurray also of Lisnanane. Her father was listed as James Wright and she was born in 1827, this Marriage preceded James Wright and Elizabeth McConkey’s Marriage. Then I found her parents listed in her Scottish death record as James Wright and Margaret Livingston. My James Wright is the only Wright found in Lisnanane; therefore it appears James Was married Twice. I also found her sister Elizabeth Wright living with the McMurray’s in Glasgow, Scotland. Sarah Jane Wright and Robert McMurray married on 04 Jan 1848 in Desertcreat Parish (more than likely it was in The Sandholes Presbyterian Church). Robert made his living as a stone mason and shortly after their marriage they moved to Glasgow, Scotland. This branch of the Wright family flourished in Scotland and I have documented 5 generation and some 88 family members. Unfortunately the trail of Elizabeth Wright ended with her living with the McMurray’s in 1851.
At beginning of the 20th century, the Wright’s I am related to in County Tyrone have either immigrated (America or Scotland) or cannot be located in Ireland.